Bill Julian, a political science professor in the ’70s and ’80s, as well as associate academic dean, served Central for almost 20 years before moving onto Monmouth College in Illinois. His time at Central is fondly remembered—everything from debating marijuana’s legalization to sleeping through a final exam.
“I had an eight o’clock final exam, and I slept through the thing. I get up, and I’m absolutely frantic. Fortunately it was a fairly small entry-level class so we worked out a rescheduling of it,” he says with a laugh.
After more than 40 years of academia, Julian retired to mountainous Loveland, Colo. to be closer to his daughters and grandaughter. But there are a few things he misses about Iowa.
“What I like about Iowa is that I was treated very well by just about everybody while I was there. I don’t miss the humidity and the raging snow storms,” Julian says. “We were there just a little bit ago making the mandatory stop at the bakery and saying ‘hi’ to a few friends. We have very good memories of Pella, Iowa.”
Q: When were you at Central?
A: I arrived in the fall of 1969. I left in 1988 to go to Monmouth College in Illinois.
Q: What did you do at Central, and where did you start?
A: I had an office with two other political scientists—in a white, tiny house. That would have been close to where Hoffman Hall is now. That’s where the political science department hung out. I taught political science with a focus on international politics and foreign policy. I taught diplomatic history with the history department and taught an upper-level theory course in sociology for a couple of years, but primarily taught mainstream political science.
Q: What do you like about the subject?
A: I was obviously very interested in what was happening with the United States internationally. That’s what drew me to it. I had a considerable interest in diplomatic history— and in particular, all of the problems that surrounded war. Not only in terms of why it happened, but how to conclude them once they happened. All of that took on a very serious tone through the Cold War when we were sitting on more mega tons of destruction than anyone cares to think about. The questions were: a) How likely is it that all of this stuff goes off? and b) What happens to us if it does? So, those were the kinds of things I had on my mind. Fun stuff.
Q: What do you miss most about Central?
A: Oh, it was a great school community when I was there. It really was. There were first-rate people on that faculty from whom I learned to be an effective faculty member at an undergraduate liberal arts college because I had never attended one. My entire education was at a large research-rich university—University of Wisconsin at Madison. I had to learn what this whole undergraduate, liberal arts thing was about, and fortunately, I had some marvelous colleagues who helped me.
I had some very understanding students, some of whom I probably drove to distraction my first year, but it was a great community and a fun place to be. It seemed as though every year, in several respects, the college got better, and it was fun to be a part of that effort. By the time I left, I had moved into administration. I was the associate academic dean, so I wasn’t teaching as much. I was more involved in various aspects of administration, and then I went to Monmouth College. I was the dean of the college. I taught just a course or two sporadically, but subsequently didn’t teach full time. But I sure enjoyed it.
Q: Do you have any specific memories of Central?
A: Oh, there are always a couple. At one point, and I can’t tell you anymore what year this was, but the whole question of what to do about marijuana had raised it’s hand as it does from time to time. So I was in the old student union on the lower level in a large room. There was an open meeting between students and faculty. We were debating the question if marijuana should be legalized. I took the positive position—my point being that if you legalize it you can get the crooks out of it and can tax it.
So I’m arguing to legalize marijuana, and it turned out that was quite surprisingly unpopular. Let’s just say my point of view did not carry. So I’m this young, untenured assistant professor, who wants to legalize drugs. So I leave that meeting, walking along the pond, and along comes Dr. Ken Weller, the president of the college. Ken and I started in the same year, so from time to time when we encountered each other, he’d ask me how it was going and I’d tell him. So, this particular day, I said, “Well Ken, I just made an argument in favor of legalizing marijuana; I think I’m in trouble.” He said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m going to lose my job before you lose yours!” That just stuck with me: his response to the whole thing.
I had some marvelous students, too. I slept through a final exam. I had an 8 o’clock final exam, and I slept through the thing. I get up, and I’m absolutely frantic. Fortunately, it was a fairly small entry-level class, so we worked out a rescheduling of it. So the students—not to be outdone—they had cake, punch and a variety of things. So we did the exam and threw a party, and everybody just had great fun with the idea that I slept through an exam, and I never forgot doing that.
Q: What else did you do after leaving Central?
A: I was the dean of the college at Monmouth—I was there for 10 years. Then in 1997-ish, I went to Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. It’s a Methodist school that specializes in trying to serve first generation college students for low-income families. All together a different place than Monmouth or Central. I spent 10 years there as the academic dean and provost—a very different kind of institution, but I enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed serving people who otherwise were not going to get the opportunity for higher education.
I supervised the design and building of a science building. The first new science building that had been built at that college for many, many decades. So that was a challenge, but rewarding. My wife, Dottie, and I still have many friends in Kentucky. That’s where I retired, and then we decided to move out to Colorado because two of our four daughters are here. That and an 8-year-old granddaughter. You do amazing things for granddaughters; they’re a lot of fun.
Dottie and I have a nice view of the mountains, and it takes us about 40 minutes to get into the national park, which is our favorite playground.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I do a fair amount of photography. I used to do it with film—I had a dark room and all that stuff. Now, like 97 percent of other amateur photographers, I do everything digitally. So, now I use a computer instead of a dark room. You know, since we’re out here with the mountains and the foliage, and the birds and animals, that’s what I photograph—when I’m not photographing grandchildren. I have more than once taken a picture of elk stretched out on a pasture and taken some mountain sheep images, so it’s fun. And I read. I’m at the point in life where I can read something simply because I want to read it.
Q: Is there anything you miss about Iowa?
A: You know, when Dottie and I decided to leave Kentucky, our other choice was to return to Pella. We liked it enough to consider returning. We probably went back and forth on that question for about a year before we just decided to come out to Colorado because of the daughters and granddaughters that are out here.
What I like about Iowa is that I was treated very well by just about everybody while I was there. So I have very positive memories about Pella, and the state of Iowa. I don’t miss the humidity and the raging snow storms, but we came darn close to saying, “Well, if we’re in Pella, that’s only a day’s drive to Colorado.” We were there just a little bit ago, making the mandatory stop at the bakery and saying ‘hi’ to a few friends. So we have very good memories about Pella, Iowa.
Q: Final thoughts?
A: I hope I taught them something, like they taught me something.